Student leaders from various public universities in Uganda have called on their fellow students to boycott the mandatory annual fee of 20,000 shillings charged by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE). They demand satisfactory answers regarding expired courses being taught in universities.
The student leaders, including Makerere University Guild President Maseruka Robert and Bill Clinton, Chairperson of Uganda National Students Association (UNSA), made this call during a press conference held at Makerere University Freedom Square on Tuesday. The students’ concerns arise from recent stories circulating on social media about students who faced difficulties due to their degrees from Makerere University, which were allegedly rejected or questioned abroad due to their expired status.
For example, an anonymous student was purportedly denied admission to a graduate program at the University of Bristol in England because their undergraduate degree in Biomedical Laboratory Technology from Makerere University had expired.
Emma Kyaterekera, a former student from Makerere University, shared a similar experience when attempting to specialize in radiation therapy for his post-graduate studies. He sought to modify his transcript to differentiate between Diagnostic Radiography and Therapeutic Radiography but was informed by the Dean of the School of Medicine that she could not endorse changes to a transcript associated with an expired curriculum.
The issue extends beyond Kyaterekera’s case, affecting numerous students across various programs. According to available information, over the past five years, more than 1,470 programs have expired in both public and private academic institutions, encompassing graduate and undergraduate courses with varying expiration periods.
The student leaders have resolved to boycott the mandatory fee charged by the NCHE until transparent explanations are provided by relevant authorities regarding the accountability of the funds. They have also formally petitioned the Chairpersons of the Councils of Public Universities, seeking their support in addressing the issue and highlighting its impact on former students who successfully completed programs that are now considered expired.
Bill Clinton expressed disappointment with the NCHE for allowing universities to advertise expired courses, leading students to unknowingly enroll in programs that will ultimately prove futile.
Edrine Wafula Koholo, the Guild President of Kyambogo University, emphasized the need for universities to promptly update the courses they offer, as graduating from an expired program equates to an educational level similar to that of an Advanced level student.
Peterson Kenyesigye, the UNSA speaker, alleged that several members of the NCHE have affiliations with various universities, creating conflicts of interest that hinder their work and contribute to the council’s indifference towards universities advertising expired courses.